The two companies first inked a collaboration in August 2016 to develop antibody technologies that help drugs cross the blood-brain barrier.
“When you give an antibody via IV injection, it does not readily go into the central nervous system,” F-star CEO John Haurum told Drug Delivery Business News.
Denali wants to take advantage of transporter molecules that cross the blood-brain barrier to address this long-standing therapeutic challenges – F-star sees its antibody tech as a way to target and hone in on these transporter molecules.
For example, one target that F-star Gamma and Denali have been working on is the transferrin receptor, a protein that helps regulate iron uptake into cells. F-star Gamma is working to generate antibodies that are engineered to bind specifically to particular receptors – like the transferrin receptor – which Denali can then use to pull its biologic therapies into the brain.
According to the terms of the deal, Denali will gain exclusive rights to the antibodies developed as part of the collaboration. Denali plans to pay $24 million upfront, plus $447 million more upon achievement of future milestones. The acquisition includes three potential targets, including the transferrin target.
“Our decision to exercise the option to buy F-star Gamma reflects the progress in our collaboration with F-star and the generation of data showing that our proprietary transport vehicle (TV) platform technology will enable us to deliver biologics across the BBB and into the brain. Furthermore, the expanded collaboration allows us to deepen and broaden our research efforts supporting our BBB platform technology,” Denali CEO Ryan Watts said in prepared remarks.
“We are thrilled,” Haurum added. “It’s a great day for the company and for the shareholders and also, I hope, for the patients.”